Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gurudakshina

I think I am too old fashioned.  I have belief in so many of the Indian cultural traditions.  I was talking about Gurudakshina, and here is what that it is.

Gurudakshina refers to the tradition of repaying one's teacher after a period of study or the completion of formal education. This tradition is one of acknowledgment, respect, and thanks. It is a form of reciprocity and exchange between student and teacher. The repayment is not exclusively monetary and may be a special task the teacher wants the student to accomplish. (In my case to work for me for one year)

Though the life style of Indians has changed down the years, the reverence and respect we pay to our teachers is still as it was a hundred years back.  

One of the beautiful thing about my students is that I accept anyone into my Institute and when the students are together they are equals irrespective of their social standing.  I really do not care who is who and what your background was.

"Satyam vada, dharmam cara
SVadhyayan ma pramadah,
Acaryaya priyam dhanam ahrtya."
 

Speak the truth; Practice virtue. Let there be no neglect of your daily reading. Give unto the teacher what is pleasing to him.

Here is a story in the Mahabharatha that exemplifies Gurudakshina:

In the Mahabharatha,Ekalavya is introduced as a young prince of the lowly Nishada tribes. Ekalavya was born to Devashrava (brother of Vasudeva, who was father of Lord Krishna) and desirous of learning advanced skills of archery, he seeks the tutelage of Drona, the legendary weapons master of and instructor of Arjuna and his brothers. Drona, however, rejects Ekalavya on account of the prince's humble origins

Ekalavya is undeterred and goes off into the forest where he fashions a clay image of Drona. Worshipping the statue as his preceptor, he begins a disciplined program of self-study. As a result, Ekalavya becomes an archer of exceptional prowess, superior even to Drona's best pupil, Arjuna. One day while Ekalavya is practicing, he hears a dog barking. Before the dog can shut up or get out of the way, Ekalavya fires seven arrows in rapid succession to fill the dog's mouth without injuring it. The Pandava princes come upon the "stuffed" dog, and wonder who could have pulled off such a feat of archery. Searching the forest, they find a dark-skinned man dressed all in black, his body besmeared with filth and his hair in matted locks. It is Ekalavya, who introduces himself to them as a pupil of Drona.

Arjuna fears that Ekalavya may have eclipsed him in skill with the bow. As a result, Arjuna complains to his teacher Drona, reminding Drona of his promise that he would allow no other pupil to be the equal of Arjuna. Drona acknowledges Arjuna's claim, and goes with the princes to seek out Ekalavya. He finds Ekalavya, as always, diligently practicing archery. Seeing Drona, Ekalavya prostrates himself and clasps the teacher's hands, awaiting his order.

eklavya_paying_guru_dakshina_to_dronacharya_we50

Drona asks Ekalavya for a dakshina or deed of gratitude that a student owes his teacher upon the completion of his training. Ekalavya replies that there is nothing he would not give his teacher. Drona cruelly asks for Ekalavya's right thumb, knowing that its loss will hamper Ekalavya's ability to pursue archery. Ekalavya, however, cheerfully and without hesitation severs his thumb and hands it to Drona. 

OK, OK I am not asking for anyone's thumb, but I want my students to realize that sacrifice is required on their part and as gurudakshina I want them to work for me for the one year not because their signed some contract, but because that is what I want from them.

I will make sure that I give them knowledge and they will have a livelihood after their finish with me.

I have decided that I am going to print this blog entry out and give this entry to my students before they start training with me.  I want them to understand how I think and why I spend crazy amounts of money on their training.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Lost Another Kid

All my friends tell me not to take US Citizens or Greencard holders because they are not loyal and they will not stay with us.  I did not agree and as I mentioned I encourage US Citizens to study with us and get placed with us.

I told you that over the last 2 years I have only lost 3 candidates who have broken their contract and left to join full time elsewhere.

Today it happened again.  I lost a US Citizen that trained with us and he is leaving to join full time with Accenture.  He said he will pay the penalty on the contract.  I do not think that these kids understand the tremendous costs that are associated with training and placing someone.  My Detroit office is running expenses at $45,000 a month and the DC office is currently running at $15,000 a month.  If a majority of students just came to me and got trained and did not finish their contract with us, I would just have to close down, since my costs are so high.

My students get full time offers all the time and everybody always says no, because they are trying to help me and they know in the long run, I will pay them more than a full time job after one year of working for me anyway.

But there is one thing I have noticed, out of the kids that have left, 3 out of 4 were the weakest candidates I had in their field.  I think it comes down to not having faith in their own abilities, and taking the first full time offer that comes, because they know they are not good in their skill sets.

It was funny, he called me and asked me for references for the full time job and said he will pay the penalty in the contract.  I explained that the penalty was very small and would not even cover my costs, and it was in place because that was the amount that the lawyer said was legal.  I told him  that I expected him to finish his one year with us.

He claimed that he was not like the other kids and that he had a business and he did need a job desperately like the others did.  He then asked me if I would help with references or not and I said no, and then he hung up on me as I was still talking.

I hate to say anything bad about anybody, but as a student he was horrible.  As an consultant he was horrible and my support bills on him were ridiculous, and in fact his support bill was more than the support bill for everybody else combined.  I never said a word.

I have told all of you in the past, there are no companies like mine that take American Citizen or GC holders, because of this issue of not staying with your employer.  All the rest of the companies will only take F1 - OPT students, because they will stay for 7 years until the process of F1 to GC gets completed.

I am sure without me, this student would have never gotten a professional job, so I guess I should be happy in the knowledge that I helped someone.

But in the short run I am angry, that people do not understand that without me, they would not have a career.  For someone that helped you get to where you are, you need to be much more grateful and stick to your word and finish the one year with us.  At the end of the 2nd year all my consultants make market rates anyway.

OK, I am upset right now and I am also thinking of never taking American Citizens or GC again, but that would be wrong.  I can help so many people and I like to help people, but if I see a trend, I will react.  You can fool me once, twice and it is a trend and three times I have to act.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Salary of $56,000

Today I just got a call from a consultant that is working in Dallas TX.

I pay all new consultants $56,000 salary for the first year, and then usually after the first year most consultants receive a huge salary increase of somewhere near $100,000, depending on which project they are working on.

So anyway I get this call saying that he cannot live on that salary in Dallas and can I give him a salary increase.

He tells me the Obama tax hike has taken a big chuck each month and by the third weak of the month he is usually broke and does not even have enough money for food.  He said all his credit cards are full and he has been borrowing to make ends meet.

I checked what the median salary was and it was $56,000 per year for a family of 4 and here was my consultant telling me that he was broke by the third weak of the month, and he is single.

This is the same person that came to me with no skill set.  This is the same person whom I have spent crazy amounts of money developing into a valuable asset to the company, community and his family.

To me words like Honor, Commitment, Sacrifice are not just words, they have real meaning for me. 

When you make a commitment to someone for one year, then you honor that commitment.  If that commitment requires some sacrifice, then you do that.

This same kid in 4-5 months will get a salary increase close to $100,000, and they will likely make more money then even their parents at that point.

I have a meeting with him tonight about expenses and what it costs to live in Dallas.  I will let you know how it goes.

I told them that when I was in the area we used to live on $48,000 a year, comfortably, and that was my ex-wife and I.  We had 2 cars and a nice apartment and still survived on $4000 a month easily. He asked me how long ago that was, and I told them it was about 6 years ago and he said, back then everything was cheaper.

Really!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

DC Office Up and Running

Our first class is up and running in Wash DC.  This is the first time that we are teaching this technology.

I offered this class for free in Wash DC, since we are still new to the market.  The next session that will start on March 30th will be $2500.  As usual it will be free to Masters Graduates, but for all others I will be charging $2500.

The bill rates for this niche technology are hovering around $100-$120 per hour plus expenses.  I am hoping my students will work hard and we can place them within 120 days from the start of training.

I do not care about all these NJ companies that train in 30 days and push people out the door with very little knowledge.  I will continue to take my time and train my students completely and only allow them to apply for jobs when I am satisfied that they can do justice on their first job and will deliver what the client asks of them.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Call Yesterday

I had a call yesterday from a potential new student and I talked to him and he then wrote me an email:

(This is the actual email)


I read some reviews about your company and it is said that we have to pay for H1B. Is that true?
Is there any hidden charges?
How good is your marketing?
Do you hold our original documents?
How is the accommodation? how many person in a single bed room?
Do I need to bring my own mattress and kitchen utensils?  

So I called him and explained about our company and what our philosophy was.  First let us answer his doubts above.


I read some reviews about your company and it is said that we have to pay for H1B. Is that true?

Answer: I have no idea who posted this, but we do not charge for H1B's.  You can ask any of my employees and they will give you the same answer.  

Is there any hidden charges?

Answer: No, there are no hidden charges.  Apparently this kid had heard that companies charge for all sorts of things and he wanted to make sure that we do not do that.  Not only do we not do that I would never allow it.  Once I have given you my word, I can guarantee you that I will stick to it, no matter what.


How good is your marketing?

Answer: Initially when we started we were average, but now after having been in the industry for a while, we are excellent.  I actually get calls from primary vendors first for consultants and only if I do not have somebody will they go other companies.   Most companies that have hired my consultants will always call me first when they have a need.

Do you hold our original documents?

Answer: I would never do that.  I am assuming that other companies are doing this so that they have a hold on you.  My consultants know the hard work I put in and we all understand that we are a team that are all here helping each other succeed.  I am extremely proud of the fact that over 2 years only 3 consultants have left me to go full time or join elsewhere.  I believe in mutual respect, hard work and love.  Love seems like such a wrong statement in this space, but trusts me when I say that when I accept you in my program, you become my responsibility and I have great love for my students.  I will do whatever it takes to help you succeed.

How is the accommodation? how many person in a single bed room?

Answer: Each bedroom has 2 beds, and yes they are real beds.  Each student has his own bed and area.  I do not cram people into guest houses.  I want my kids to feel safe, secure and comfortable and that is what I try and achieve in my guest houses.  Some of my students have commented that it was like a palace in our Guest House after they came from college.  I have a policy that I will only ask my students to stay somewhere if I was willing to stay there.  Last night I had some new classes starting in Wash DC office and the house where I put the kids had no furniture, since I only got the key yesterday.  My cousin sister asked me to stay in her house so that I was comfortable.  I told her no, since I could not ask my students to stay at the new house with no furniture if I was unwilling to stay there.  So I spread out some comforters and slept on the floor.  Like I said I would never ask you do something that I was unwilling to do myself.  I bought all the guest houses that my students stay at in Detroit, just so that I could fix it up perfectly like the way I wanted.



Do I need to bring my own mattress and kitchen utensils?  

Answer: No, we have a bed for you along with all the accessories that go with that bed.  We have all kitchen items, and if you find something missing just email me and I make sure to fix any issue you have right away. 

My Employee Comment

I was chatting to one of my employee that works as a BA for me and he was telling about all the horror stories that he heard from other consultants about their companies.

Apparently other companies keep people original documents, they keep charging the consultants various fees that are not disclosed, and of course paychecks that are late or do not come.  I have heard of consultants crying that they have no money and will the company at least give them a $1000 of the money they are owed.  Apparently none of the companies keeps their promises.

Anyway he heard lots of horror stories and he felt like writing me an email, so here was his email (It is his original email):


Yea... I know, ... But ur still a good person and you have been of great help all through this process... I have heard stories from other people from different consultancy companies and u have actually beaten all of them... Just wanted to say thank u

The Yea I know refers to my previous email in which he thanked me before and I wrote: (below is the actual email I wrote)



Not a problem. I am happy to help people and I always view that as my mission.

The other companies view money as the objective and that it where they do things wrong and take short cuts.

My kids are very important and I want each and every one of you to succeed.


I know I should not be bragging, but I feel like a proud parent when your child comes to you and says thank you.  You know you work hard, but it is rare that someone will come out and say thank you and acknowledge that.

I have to say that this letter made my day yesterday.